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HRC Renews Call to Censure and Remove Alabama Chief Justice Moore For Defying Federal Court Rulings

by HRC staff April 27, 2016

Today, HRC renewed its call for the removal of Chief Justice Roy Moore from the Alabama Supreme Court for failing to do his job and follow the law.

Last year, HRC and other civil rights organizations joined the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) ethics complaint with the Judicial Inquiry Commission of Alabama, seeking Moore’s removal for violating the obligations of his office. The complaint details Moore’s blatant disregard for the law, including communications in which he urges Governor Robert Bentley and members of the state’s probate judges association to ignore federal court rulings striking down Alabama’s ban on marriage equality.

“With order after order, Chief Justice Moore has flagrantly defied every federally binding pro-marriage equality ruling, and his obligation to follow the law,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs. “Moore’s personal opinions are not at issue here. As a lawyer and as a judge, he took an oath to uphold the laws of the United States. If he refuses to do so, he should be removed from office, and censured for his obstructionist tactics.”

Chief Justice Moore and his lawyer, Mat Staver of the notoriously anti-LGBT group the Liberty Counsel, addressed the complaints at press conference today, where they referred to them as “politically motivated,” and claimed that Moore did not break any laws. Moore also went on a tirade against the transgender community, repeatedly calling transgender people “mentally ill.”

Since January 2015, when Alabama’s marriage ban was first struck down, Chief Justice Moore has used his position on the state Supreme Court to block marriage equality in Alabama at every juncture. Following the first ruling that found Alabama’s marriage equality ban unlawful, Moore wrote to a letter to the Governor requesting that the ruling be ignored as non-binding “judicial tyranny,” and informing the state’s probate judges that they could ignore the ruling.

Moore’s actions prompted  HRC to collect and deliver to the Judicial Inquiry Committee petitions signed by 28,000 people demanding his removal. The Judicial Inquiry Commission has yet to respond.

Chief Justice Moore caused havoc again in  January when he issued another shameful order claiming that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges does not specifically address Alabama’s marriage equality ban. Moore justified his unconscionable position by asserting that  state law allows him to "take affirmative and appropriate action to correct or alleviate any condition or situation adversely affecting the administration of justice within the state." Despite his opposition to marriage equality, Moore last month was forced to dismiss a final challenge to the state’s marriage ban with was brought by local anti-LGBT groups.  

Not surprisingly, Chief Justice Moore is being represented by Mat Staver, of the Liberty Counsel -- an organization that has been designated an anti-LGBT hate group by the SPLC. Most recently they have represented Kim Davis, the infamous Kentucky County Clerk who flouted the law by refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The group is also responsible for the recent uptick in state legislation across the country which seeks to bar transgender people from accessing bathroom facilities consistent with their gender identity.

Moore is no stranger to this variety of ethics complaint. He was previously removed by the state’s Supreme Court in 2003 for ignoring a federal court’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building.

HRC staff
HRC staff


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